Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dale Carpenter on Marriage, Religion

Prof. Dale Carpenter has written any number of very interesting and readable posts lately on marriage equality and related issues at the Volokh Conspiracy; I highly recommend wandering over there and browsing them (among all the many other things, readable, interesting and otherwise, to be found at that blog). His latest post is about religious conservatives' misleading attempts to paint civil marriage equality as creating a conflict with religious liberty. Carpenter correctly points out that:

  • This is essentially a red herring, as the "conflicts" being pointed to largely arise from nondiscrimination statutes and predate marriage equality.
  • A recent NPR story nevertheless bought into this storyline of a "coming storm" created by marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
  • What these critics are really objecting to is prohiting discriminationg based on sexual orientation in general.
  • Inasmuch as these conflicts do exist, they present complex, fact-sensitive constitutional issues that have been debated for years and have little to do with marriage.
  • These arguments are essentially another chapter in social conservatives' failed attempts to prove that marriage equality is "harmful."
  • On a related note, a potent example of different religious and civil approaches to marriage can coexist is the question of divorce: Catholicism and Orthodoxy refuse to recognize divorce, but it is now generally accepted that permitting civil divorce does not trample the beliefs of Catholics or Orthodox Jews.

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